I might argue that, in large part, we listen to music because it allows us to connect with something larger than ourselves. Music is about forging bonds with other people, with the world, with art, with ideas. Sharing love for an artist or an album or a song with another person gives you something to talk about, something to connect over. Hating something that someone else loves gives rise to spirited debate which leads to bonding. (The only thing people like doing more than agreeing with one another is disagreeing. And making love, but we’re not here to talk about Barry White.) For me, Rusted Root offered significant opportunity to connect with the broader world. One of my first dates with Mrs. Citizen was a Rusted Root concert at Cleveland State’s Convocation Center. There are parts of that concert that I remember with psychoactive-like clarity: the blood-red, fluidly moving backdrop during “Laugh as the Sun,” Mrs. Citizen’s perfume, the almost messianic power of Michael Glabicki on my 17 year old brain and the immediate bond we formed with the wildly spinning hippie to our right. I love my wife because of who she is. Rusted Root was one of the first avenues through which I was able to find out what that was.
All this to say that Rusted Root will be in Cleveland on December 30 (at the House of Blues). It’s possible that they are not “hip” anymore. It is probable that they won’t be turning up on Gorilla Vs. Bear anytime soon. All of that is irrelevant. They made music that was super important to me at a formative period in my life. I will see them whenever they come to town and I will love it. For me, music isn’t the same as a pair of designer jeans; music does not exist to signify how cool I am. It exists to remind me that I am part of a broader structure, that there is a human context and that I am in it. Mrs. Citizen and I will be at the House of Blues on December 30, hoping that Rusted Root plays “Tree.” Even if they don’t, I will leave happy.
Hometapes had a really good year. We’ve got two of their records coming up in our continuing Best of 2009 coverage. (You can guess what they are, but I won’t spoil the surprise. Tune in to find out what Hometapes records we really enjoyed!) Showing that they never run out of good ideas, they’re doing pretty sweet 8 Days of Christmas thing on their website. For the next week, they’ll lob a holiday tune from an artist in their stable of geniuses into the internet. Nothing better than good Christmas music from bands that have chops. The first offering comes from Slaraffenland and is easily the best ever version of “Little Drummer Boy.” (That sounds like hyperbole, but I absolutely despise “Little Drummer Boy.” If I hear the Tori Amos version one more time, I’m burning down a toy store. Seriously.) I will be monitoring Hometapes like a stalker over the next seven days, eagerly awaiting their next seven bits of winter cheer. (My Hometpaes holiday wish? Megafaun singing The Christmas Waltz, a la the version on the Carpenters’ Christmas album. That would be the bomb.)
A while back, we posted a Jay-Z/Radiohead mash-up. The fellow behind that project also has a delightful Beastie Boys re-mix, wherein he mated songs from Check Your Head with other songs from Check Your Head. It’s mash-up incest, but it is killer. If you find the “What’cha Want” x “In 3′s” collision pleasing to the ear, grab the rest here. (For the record: this idea would have been approximately 3.5x better if executed with Ill Communication. I don’t want to live in a world without a “Get it Together”/”Sure Shot” mash-up. Help me DJs!)